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How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking in the Car

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking in the Car
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-3 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

You’ve got an extremely long drive ahead. You’ve got young children to look after and a partner that insists on playing truly horrendous music in the car. Making it even worse though, is your dog who’s in the back barking. Not just a quiet growl, but a penetratingly loud bark. The only positive is that he’s drowning out the sound of your partner's music. There’s just no telling him to quit the barking, he seems adamant on making as much noise as possible whenever he gets into a car. It’s the same when you take him to the vets, or to visit friends and family. 

Training him to stop barking in the car will give you some well-deserved peace and quiet. It will also mean you don’t have to walk him in the rain and the cold just because of the havoc he’ll cause if you drive him.

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Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to bark in the car is relatively straightforward. You’ll first need to identify why he barks, then you can set about remedying it. You’ll have to take a number of measures to keep him calm and subdued in the car. You’ll also need to use obedience commands to teach him to be quiet. If he’s a puppy, his brain should be malleable and you can expect results in as little as a week. If he’s older and had this noisy habit for many years then you may need up to three weeks to fully kick the habit.

Training him to be quiet will mean you can drive safely. You won’t be distracted by your barking dog, you’ll actually be able to concentrate on the road.

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Getting Started

Before you can get to work, you’ll need to gather a few things. Treats or his favorite food will be essential. You’ll also need some toys and possibly some food puzzles. These will help keep him distracted when he’s in the car.

Find 10 minutes a day you can set aside for training, when you won’t be distracted by a noisy household. You’ll also need to have access to a car to practice in over the next few weeks.

Once you’ve got the above, you can get to work!

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The Deterrence Method

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1

Spray bottle

When you’re in the car, have a passenger or someone in the back squirt water near his face when he barks. This quick, sharp spray will quickly signal to him that barking won’t be tolerated.

2

Collars

You can also get collars that are automatically triggered when he barks. The citronella collar, for example, will emit an unpleasant spray near his face. Simply fit the collar before you get in a car. This will further deter him.

3

‘NO’

Often, consistent disapproval from an owner can help stamp out an unfavorable habit. Whenever he barks, in a clear and firm voice say ‘NO’ in his direction. Don’t terrify him, but make sure he knows you mean business.

4

Cover his crate

If you put him in a crate in the car and he starts barking, try putting a towel or blanket over it. If he can’t see what’s going on, he won’t get so worked up and he won’t bark. When he stops barking you can then remove it and give him another chance to stay quiet.

5

Positive reinforcement

While deterring him with the measures above, also reward him with treats and attention when he doesn’t bark. This combination of positive and negative reinforcement will swiftly get the message across.

The Distraction Method

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Exercise

Before you go on a drive, make sure he’s had plenty of exercise. If he’s restless then he may bark simply to release some pent up energy. Give him a long walk, or throw a ball for 15 minutes for him. A tired dog is a quiet dog.

2

Meet all his needs

Make sure before a long drive in particular that he’s done everything he needs to, the toilet for example. If he’s been to the toilet and he’s got access to water and a towel or blanket to lie on, then he won’t bark to signal to you that he needs something.

3

Food puzzles

When you get in the car, give him a food puzzle. You can buy puzzles that will keep him distracted and preoccupied for hours. If it’s got his favorite food inside then all his attention will be focused on that.

4

Toys

Have someone else play gently with him in the car. He may simply want attention. Don’t get him so worked up he’s jumping around, but play a little tug of war and stroke him. This will stem any and all attention-seeking barking.

5

Down time

Once you’ve played around for a while, have some down time. Talk in a quiet and soft voice. Dogs mirror their owners behavior, so if someone in the back can stroke him gently this should subdue him. It will also prevent any barking that’s a result of him being scared to be in the car.

The ‘Quiet’ Method

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Monitor

Look for situations that naturally cause him to bark. These could be when you’re putting together his meals, or securing him to his leash for a walk. You’re going to use these moments to teach him to be quiet, a command that will come in extremely useful in the car.

2

‘Quiet’

Put him in the bark-inducing situation and then wait patiently. As soon as he stops barking, issue a ‘quiet’ command, giving it in an upbeat but clear voice. You can use any word or phrase you like.

3

Reward

As soon as you’ve given the command, give him a tasty treat and some praise. The better the treat the more likely he’ll be to follow your instruction again. Now practice this for 10 minutes every day.

4

Use in the car

Now put him in the car and head off down the road. As soon as he barks, issue your ‘quiet’ command. Then when he does go quiet, throw him a treat. If he won’t follow your command in the car, go back to practicing in the house for a few more days.

5

Lose the treats

When he finally gets the hang of it, you can stop giving him tasty rewards. Use the command every time and he’ll soon realize what is and isn’t expected of him in the car. The barking will eventually subside.

Written by James Barra

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 11/16/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Poppy

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Cavapoo

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One Year

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Question

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Our Poppy has started a high pitched bark in the car when we get in. If we are all there she calms down and then starts again when we get to our destination. My husband has to take her to work 3 times a week in his small van. She is in the crate in the back. It has her blanket and a toy and she can see him. The work journey is horrendous. She will do the high pitched bark all the way there and all the way back. She is quiet immediately after getting in the work door. She used to be ok on car journeys but it has got increasingly difficult.

March 9, 2023

Poppy's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, I would work on teaching the Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, I would desensitize to car riding by practicing sitting in the car with the car stationary, while rewarding obedience to the Quiet and Down commands. Third, I would practice driving around with her in the crate with a second person riding along to train. Practice Quiet and Down with her in the crate driving this time, while the second person concentrates on the road. Drive to boring locations like around neighborhoods first. Finally, you may need an interrupter also, especially once its just your husband driving with her. Since she is in the back and he is in the front, a remote training collar set to a working level stimulation level, may be the safest option for him. You would practice the training first with the car off, with her in her crate, while working on Quiet with rewards also; doing this, should help her understand that the correction is for barking and how to get quiet to earn rewards instead, so that later when you practice with the moving car, she will be able to calm down and understand the new boundaries, rather than thinking that the corrections are random and just associate them with car riding rather than her barking, which could make things worse. She needs to know how to stop the correction - by getting quiet, and have the skills to stay quiet - by practicing with the car off and with rewards ahead of time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 14, 2023

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Codie and Cooper

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Golden Retriever

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21 Months

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My two boys start barking in the car after about halfway for there walk. Once we get there it stops and on the way back they are so quiet. I am the only one in the car and as it is an estate car I can’t throw treats and have contact with them. It’s very distracting and stressful.

June 30, 2022

Codie and Cooper's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gillian, I would start by teaching both dogs what Quiet means. Do this at home, unrelated to the car first. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, I would practice Quiet and Down- Stay in the car when it's off and you can carefully hand a treat to pups instead of tossing them. Use something like freeze dried liver treats that are easy for pups to swallow and not slimy or need to be crunched into a lot of pieces, to keep things clean. Put a towel under pups if needed too. Third, Practice the Quiet command whenever pups bark in other scenarios. When pup gets quiet, reward in real life scenarios, but if pup keeps barking, use a remote training collar or bark collar to enforce pup being quiet. Correcting the barking with low level stimulation or vibration - if pup will respond to vibration. Once pup understands that Quiet means stop barking and that the correction is a correction for not obeying quiet and continuing to bark, then the correction and quiet command can both be used to enforce quiet rides in the car. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 30, 2022


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